Putting Together a Plan for the First Day of School

Plan for the first day of school
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If you’ve been following the back-to-school posts on the blog this week, you’ve probably seen several freebies for your first week here, here, and here. Hopefully you’ve checked them out, downloaded them from my TPT store, and have them ready to go. Now, it’s time to put it all together and plan for your first day of school! This plan should work for grades two, three, four, or five. I can say this because I’ve used a variation of this in all those grades over the years. Here is a sample list of how your day could go!

Morning Work

Before the kids come, have plain paper out on every desk with crayons or colored pencils. Write the following directions on the board. “Draw a picture of yourself doing your favorite thing over summer break. Use lots of color and detail.” You will need to simplify these directions for younger students.

This should give you time to welcome students at the door and help each child find the right desk. You will also be in the middle of class fee and school supply collection chaos. The first day paperwork is not fun, but hopefully this plan for the first day of school will help it suck less.

Incorporating the Paperwork Chaos in your Plan for the First Day of School

Before you settle down to record fees you’ve collected and take attendance, greet your class, hang tight for morning announcements, then start on the second part of the morning work assignment. Give each child a sheet of the writing paper of your choice. Have them write sentences or a paragraph about the picture that they are drawing. Ask them to explain the activity they chose to draw and have them tell you why it is their favorite thing to do.

While the kids work through their pictures and sentences, sit down and record your fees. Take attendance. If your brain works like mine, you need some semblance of peace and quiet to get this straight. Since the kids are trying to make a good impression, they will probably be pretty good for you, at least for the first twenty minutes or so.

That One Kid

That one kid will get done with this entire project in ten minutes, though. This kid might be waving a hand to tell you and the universe that the work is finished. If you don’t acknowledge said friend immediately, he or she will bounce right up to your desk to shout in your ear just as you are counting out twenty of the twenty-six one-dollar bills someone handed you in a baggie with four quarters, two nickels, and fifteen pennies. Take a deep breath, and task this one kid with taking all your paperwork to the office. Inevitably, this will be the kid who is completely new and has no idea where to find anything in the school. Most likely, you will have another one or two who are almost done and can guide that one kid to the right place before he or she starts throwing pencils. We will discuss that one kid at length in future posts on this blog. For now, just figure this kid into your plan for the first day of school. He or she will show up and may bring friends.

Learn all the Names

The paperwork is done and the class fee calculation is in God’s hands at this point. It’s time to round up the troops and figure out who is who. The quicker you pick up on everyone’s name, the easier it will be to manage your kids. You’ve already learned the name of that one kid because you’ve probably said it thirty-five times. Choose one of the games I shared here, or one of your own to play.

This is a great time to have students share their morning work. The sooner you can get kids talking and interacting, the quicker you can begin building relationships and solidifying your classroom community.

Get to Know Your Classmates

Now it’s time to give your students the chance to get to know each other. Grab that Name Collection Survey Game you downloaded from my TPT Store and give one to all your students. Have them get up and moving to see how many of the grid boxes they can fill with names. While kids are working on this, observe them. That One Kid may be taking up quite a bit of your time. The super anxious child may have already thrown up on your new shoes by now, so you’ve identified him or her as well. You may not have even noticed the shy kid. Or the kid that gets no work done. This activity will help you identify the kids who will need you the most this year. The one who is talking up a storm to everyone but not writing anything may not be able to read the grid. The one who can’t strike up a conversation with anyone at all may not by shy but have a language processing problem instead.

Once the kids have finished this activity and you’ve made all your mental notes about them, you will probably have somewhere to go, like a resource class. If nothing is on the schedule, you could take your class on a school tour and give them a bathroom break at this point.

Incorporating Supply Organization into Your Plan for the First Day of School

Once you get the kids back in class, give them the All About Me Sheet you printed out. This will be the first class book you make. While students are working on this project, take this time to help kids get their supplies in order. Our district provides the supplies, and parents provide the fees. In this case, you’ve probably labeled and distributed them already. If the children bring supplies in, this is your chance to help them label folders and notebooks for specific subject areas. If you take up all the materials, distribute the ones students will need right away. The sooner you can organize all these items, the quicker you can get started teaching children routines and procedures for all their goods. Once you finish your organizing, take it all in. Enjoy the neatness and the newness of all those beautiful supplies. Be honest—new notebooks, pens, and pencils are three big reasons we all pursued this profession anyway.

Story Time

Collect the pages for the All About Me book that you’ll put together after school today. Gather the kids on your carpet or at your meeting space for a story. I love a good read-aloud, and nothing moves along a first day like a good book. Here are a few feel-good titles that will set a positive tone for your school year. I’ve included my affiliate links below to help you get these books if you can’t find them in your library. Remember, if you purchase a book through my link, you don’t pay more, but I may make a small commission.

All Are Welcome  by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman

This book highlights diversity. The verses assure each child that no matter what they wear, how they play, or what they like to eat, they are all an important part of the school community.

A Letter from Your Teacher on the First Day of School by Shannon Olsen

In this rhyming story, a teacher pens a note to her students to remind them of how important they are to her already. This is actually a great letter to kids from each of us. Olsen reminds kids that while learning is a big deal, developing positive character traits is super important, too.

School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex

In this book, a brand new school tells the story of ITS first day The school tells what it’s like to welcome children. The school has to deal with nervous children, a fire drill, and bullies. This is an adorable book for teaching point of view. My favorite part mentions “nose milk.”

Math Time

At some point, you have to work in recess, lunch, resources, bathroom breaks, and maybe a school assembly into your day. We have covered quite a bit so far, but why not incorporate a little bit of math with the Math About Me Class book page? Put out some rulers and go for it!

End of the Day

As you’ve moved throughout your first day, hopefully, you’ve been able to work in some instruction on routines and procedures. We will go over those topics at length next week. Until then, take those kids to the bus and congratulate yourself! You made it! Only 179 days to go!

Before You Go

Thanks so much for stopping by to plan for the first day of school! I would love it if you would subscribe to this blog, and pin this post! While you’re at it, check out my Teachers Pay Teachers Store for some products to help your first days of school go smoothly. Follow my store for updates! if you download some of the free products highlighted in this post, please consider leaving me a positive review and tell me how your students did with it. I would love to hear from you!

Check out these low- or no-prep inexpensive products to make planning your first days of school MUCH easier:

*Back-to-School Math, Reading, and Craft Packet

*Back-to-School and End-of-School Writing Task Cards

*Back-to-School Readers Theater Script

*Back-to-School Bundled Activities

*Prompts for Entrance/Exit Tickets: Six Word Responses:

I wrote about using the Six Word Response resource here!

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